California Cabernets, especially from Napa, are well known for their power, richness, tannin, high alcohol...and too often, astronomical price. Those in the "cult" category such as Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate can fetch hundreds of dollars or more per bottle, and are difficult or impossible to get unless you're a "VIP" customer and on the allocation list. Don't get me wrong: there are some outstanding Napa (and Sonoma, for that matter) Cabs at "fairly reasonable" prices and they, too, have a devoted following, albeit among us normal folk. And given that I'm a #1 fan of Bordeaux, years ago I discovered "Meritage" wines, produced by a group of American vintners that formed The Meritage Alliance in 1998 to produce and…

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I’ve seen a lot of ads on Facebook lately for the Firstleaf wine “club.” The ad takes you to a 13-question quiz, kinda like a junior high “pop quiz,” (because you can’t really prepare for it) to “scientifically” determine the wines you like in order that Firstleaf can then send you wines you’ll want to drink. Evidently, it’s based on a “proven” algorithm…’cause, well, impenetrable and opaque mathematical formulas are always the way you should select wine. Evidently. The first question was a linear “slider” that asks you to select white wines at one end, red at the other, and “a mix” in the middle. OK. But what about Rosé wines? Ports and dessert wines? Sherries and Madeiras? Champagne, Prosecco,…

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While at last week's Wineries Unlimited show, I stopped by the booth of the Scholle company from suburban Chicago, which makes liners and spigots that go into some of today's best boxed wines. Now, let you think that "best" and "boxed" are mutually exclusive, I did taste several wines using Scholle packaging and some were quite good. I especially enjoyed the Black Box (aptly named) Cabernet pictured here with marketing manager Katie Scarpelli, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc and a Malbec from two other producers. And despite a "few" tastings before I arrived at Scholle's booth, I picked out from across the room their signature spigot, which I saw a couple days earlier in a news release photo of…

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